Bullying Mayor sends threatening late night email

The ongoing scandal over the mismanagement of the theatre in Marlborough seems to be boiling over, with the Mayor staying up late at night sending threatening emails to a constituent.

Word on the street is that Mayor Sowman, as he signs his threatening late night emails, is feeling the pressure after being called upon to resign over the massive spending blow out on the “World-class Theatre”. This is the theatre that has projected revenue of $28,000 per week from a district with about 45,000 people, as we highlighted earlier today.

Here is the email thread.

From: Corey Hebberd
Sent: Wednesday, 29 June 2016 8:18 p.m.
To: Mayor Sowman-7100; Jenny Andrews; Jamie Arbuckle; [email protected][]co.nz; Graeme Barsanti; Cynthia Brooks; Brian Dawson; B Dawson – 2nd email address; Geoff Evans; Trevor Hook; Peter Jerram; John Leggett; David Oddie; Laressa Shenfield; Terry Sloan
Subject: ASB Theatre Funding
Importance: High

Dear Councillors

ASB Theatre Funding

Tomorrow, you face an incredibly hard decision on the ASB Theatre project.

Mayor Sowman has proposed:

· Paying the Trust some $5.1m to repay its debt to ASB Bank and Rata Foundation
· Increasing the Trust’s $200k annual operating subsidy by $190k to $390k, being funded from reserves

This bailout package is significant:

· $5.1m equates to an amount equivalently equal to an 8% rates increase
· The increased operations subsidy is equivalently equal to a 0.33% rates increase
· Reserves are already severely depleted – every dollar you drain from reserves and MDCHL/MAL/PMNZ is another dollar that can’t be spent on community infrastructure, like roads, water, the environment etc.

MCTT have failed to ensure that the investment Council has applied to this project is spent wisely. Instead, the project faces insolvency and collapse, as a result of a lack of transparency and adequate reporting. You cannot seriously consider yourself to be acting in the best interests of Marlborough residents and ratepayers if you allow this lack of transparency and reporting to continue. It is what has gotten us (you, and Marlborough ratepayers) into this predicament.

For the record, I support MDC moving to acquire the Trust’s “world class asset”, and vest it in public ownership. This project must be finished – it’s too late to turn back, however, the fiscal and governance disciplines you apply tomorrow will determine whether this project can continue to drift rudderless into the future, or if it can be governed through to a “safe harbour” by Council.

Any recommendation “asking” the Trust to report on financials or allowing the CFO to attend is ludicrous – this is beyond a point where Council should have to “ask” the Trust – it is time to hold them to account and demand accountability – not simply ask nicely for it.

The Blenheim Residents and Ratepayers Association petition has exceeded 200 signatures, faring well against the number of submissions made to MDC’s AP process.

In closing, I leave you with some comments made recently from the last few days online by Marlborough residents/ratepayers, who simply want you to act responsibly tomorrow:

· The Mayor has previously apologized for not keeping Councilors informed! There is no doubt that the buck stops there.
· Perhaps it is time to bring in the Auditor General, and bring some accountability to those who have left ratepayers in this position?
· Clearly there has been an absence of governance, and the ratepayers have been misled, quite possibly with malice of forethought, by those involved.
· “We have a world-class asset.”……and a world class pile of debt…
· These [four] councillors [Bagge, Arbuckle, Shenfield, Evans] are simply doing what we have all been thinking. Well done Councillor Bagge, you have real integrity. We will miss you. Enough is enough. It is time Sowman cleaned out his locker.
· Sowman’s ego won’t quit!
· Enough is enough!!
· Never has so much ratepayer money been so unwisely spent by so few with so little accountability!

Here are the results of an online poll, asking “Do you support MDC’s proposed $5m bailout of the Marlborough Civic Theatre project, and MDC’s proposal to increase the annual subsidy to $390k?”


Vote wisely tomorrow – for many of you, it will be a defining moment.

Yours sincerely

Corey Hebberd
[email protected][].com
+64 27 819 []


Followed by this hostile Andrew Williamseque email from the Mayor. 

From: Mayor Sowman-7100 <[email protected][].govt.nz>
Date: 29 June 2016 at 10:24:13 PM NZST
To: ‘Corey Hebberd’ <[email protected][].com>, Jenny Andrews <[email protected][].co.nz>, Jamie Arbuckle <[email protected][].co.nz>, “[email protected][].co.nz” <[email protected][].co.nz>, Graeme Barsanti <[email protected][].co.nz>, Cynthia Brooks <[email protected][].com>, “Brian Dawson” <[email protected][].com>, B Dawson – 2nd email address <[email protected][].co.nz>, Geoff Evans <[email protected][].co.nz>, Trevor Hook <[email protected][].co.nz>, Peter Jerram <[email protected][].co.nz>, John Leggett <[email protected][].co.nz>, David Oddie <[email protected][].co.nz>, Laressa Shenfield <[email protected][].com>, Terry Sloan <[email protected][].co.nz>
Cc: Mark Wheeler-5030 <[email protected][].govt.nz>, “Karen Fisher ([email protected][].co.nz)” <[email protected][].co.nz>
Subject: RE: ASB Theatre Funding

Stick to something you are qualified to do, and that is not to misrepresent councils agenda and recommendations for some personal political satisfaction. There are so many errors in your report that it is a joke. Okay to have a poll, but your summary of events is quite frankly a disgrace.
Let’s start with” Mayor Sowman has proposed paying the Trust some 5.1m to repay its debt to ASB and Rata Foundation.
Totally untrue. The report is a staff document and the recommendations are not crafted by me. They could well be changes to the recommendations proposed by councillors at the meeting tomorrow. While a reduction in the loans would be a good idea, I have never proposed that in this document.
Second, given that the above is untrue, to say that $5.1m equates to a 8% rate increase is equally total rubbish.
I have said publically that any reduction of the loan will or should come from reserves that are designed for this purpose.
You are totally out of your depth Corey . Two things, the poll is worthless because you have total misrepresented the facts. You have chosen to make this information public to either show the public you are an expert or that you are part of a political agenda, I suspect both.
I intend making a press release to expose your tactics and to inform the public that you have fooled them into filling out a poll.
We have vulnerable people in our community and to publically suggest that they could get a 8% rate rise is a disgrace.
I do support an increase in their operational grant and that is fair.
$390.000pa is 37c cents a week across all rate payers for this fantastic facility.
Your comment that I have not kept the councillors informed is also wrong. They had the same information that I had. I did say we could have had more information.
Can I suggest that you come early tomorrow afternoon and get a front row seat. I could make you a star and all the audience can see you for what you are.
Better still, get your political mates to sit with you. We know who they are , the old blogger who trades under that many false names that I doubt if he actually knows who he is, but the audience may be interested to know. I may ask that you come forward and present me with the petition, could be a photo op Corey.
I will be requesting legal advice and will also be asking for a public apology.
Mayor Sowman

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.